City Food – Winter Chikkis, Rithala
The cold season treat.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
These days it’s the smog that heralds the Delhi winters. The Delhi Walla is told that long ago, when the air was still clean, this shift in the season was detected by the appearance of chikki sellers on our mohalla streets.
It is said that the summer-time kulfi wallahs would take to selling the delicious peanut-jaggery delicacy that not only gives a sugar boost but also infuses comforting warmth.
The other day, I found young Mustafa with a treasure trove not only of chikkis but also its other cousins — revri and gajak, though I didn’t care for his piles of peanuts. Cars frequently stopped by his roadside stall in north Delhi’s Rithala. Customers swiftly stepped out and gazed upon the many options. Most would buy the chikki, of course, but quite a few of them also got laddus made of puffed rice. We had never tasted this thing before, and it was delicious.
Mustafa, who hails from Bareilly, said, “My chikki business lasts only for a few months… until Lohri (the festival).” The rest of the year, he sells fruits. The chikki seller sits on the road just outside Rithala station. The stretch has a few other similar stalls, each manned by a young man like our Mustafa.
Just as I started to dream of Mustafa’s family making fresh chikki every morning, he told me, “I get these from a factory nearby.” We were feeling a tad disappointed at this discovery until we tried the chikki — it was as tasty and addictive, just as I had imagined.